Original and Practical Recipes. Inexpensive, Quick and Healthy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Kittchen has moved to WordPress

Just a quick reminder to my followers that the blog has moved to WordPress.  The URL is still www.thekittchen.com but you will need to click follow again now that I am using a new platform. There are lots of fun new posts waiting for you at the new site. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 10, 2012

TheKittchen Has Moved to Wordpress

I finally had the time to move the blog over to wordpress.  I will leave thekittchen.blogspot.com up for now, but for new posts please visit thekittchen.com.  For those of you who subscribe to the blog please sign up again under my new account.  I hope you like thekittchen's new look!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I made mashed sweet potatoes to go with the cheddar and breadcrumb crusted chicken that I posted yesterday.  I am trying to eat more sweet potatoes since they are much more nutritious than other potato varieties.  Charles is not a fan of really sweet things, so I didn't add much brown sugar to these potatoes.

Total time: 30 minutes

You will need:
3 Sweet Potatoes
1 tablespoon Butter
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Step 1:
Peel the potatoes and then chop into large cubes.  Add to boiling water.

Step 2:
Cook the potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes.  Then drain.

Step 3:
Add the potatoes to a bowl and then add the butter, brown sugar, and salt.  Mash with a fork and then serve.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cheddar Cheese and Breadcrumb Crusted Chicken

Cheese is one of the greatest things in the world.  I decided to try combining cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs to make a crust on chicken.  The cheese created a crisp crust that I really enjoyed.  I served the chicken with mashed sweet potatoes and sugar snap peas.

Total time: 45 minutes

You will need:
3 Chicken Breasts
2/3 cup Breadcrumbs
2/3 cup Shredded Cheddar
2 Eggs
1 tablespoon butter

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the breadcrumbs and the cheddar in a bowl.  Then whisk the eggs in another bowl.

Step 2:
Coat the chicken with the breadcrumb cheddar mixture.  Then dunk in the egg and then coat in more of the breadcrumb mix.

Step 3:
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter.  Then brown the chicken in the pan.  Once both sides are browned, put the chicken onto a baking dish and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday Tip: How to Make Half a Cake

Sometimes a full cake is just too much.  You can use half of a cake mix to make half a cake or half as many cupcakes.  Simply use half the cake mix (just eyeball it).  Then cut all the other ingredients in half.  If the recipe calls for 3 eggs just use 2.

I did this a few years ago for my sister's birthday when we had a small dinner party.  I baked the cake in ramekins instead of cake pans.  I made three layers which made a really cute little cake!  This is just the right amount for 3-4 people.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tzatziki

Charles made tzatziki for our Olympic themed Sunday Night Dinner.  We did a test run a few days before the dinner, and we were glad that we did since our first attempt was too runny.  Tzatziki is a very traditional yogurt based Greek dip with is usually served with Pita.  We ate a lot of Tzatziki while were were on our honeymoon and each one we tried was slightly different.  There are lots of  Tzatziki recipes out there, we looked a several before we settled on this one because we liked that it included dill and lemon.
Straining the cucumber in cheese cloth

You will need:
16 ounces of Greek Yogurt
1 small Cucumber
1 teaspoon Dill
3 cloves Garlic
4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Step 1:
Chop the cucumber in a blender or food processor until it is in small chunks but not totally liquified.  Then let it drain with some cheese cloth to eliminate some of the excess liquid.  (We did this because our first attempt was so runny).

Step 2:
Once the cucumber has drained, return it to the blender and add the garlic and blend until smooth.

Step 3:
Stir the yogurt, dill, lemon juice and olive oil into the cucumber and garlic mixture.  Serve with warmed or toasted pita.  If you brush pit with olive oil and bake in the oven until toasted it especially delicious.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Moussaka

Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish that Charles and I tried while on our honeymoon.  Many Mediterranean countries have their own versions of Moussaka, but the Greek version stands out because it has a meat sauce, and the ingredients are layered (similar to lasagna).  Moussaka is a rich hearty dish with layered potato, eggplant, meat sauce, Parmesan, and b├ęchamel sauce.  I made Moussaka for our Olympic themed Sunday Night Dinner, since Charles and I chose to represent Greece.  This recipe has a lot of steps, since each layer of the Moussaka is prepared individually - the prep time is about 2 hours.

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 10

You will need:
2 eggplants
1 lb. of potatoes
2 lbs. ground beef
2 large onions, finely diced
3/4 cup red wine
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cup tomato puree
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups plain breadcrumbs
12 whites, lightly beaten (reserve the yolks for the bechamel)
1 1/2 cups Parmesan


For the Bechamel Sauce:
3 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cup flour
6 cups warm milk
12 lightly beaten egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Step 1:
Slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices.  Salt them generously and then place them in a colander and set aside.  Place the colander in the sink, the salt is going to draw out excess moisture from the eggplant.  Let the eggplant sit for 20 minutes to an hour.

Step 2:
Peel the potatoes and then cook them in boiling water until they are just cooked.  Do not over cook them, because you need to slice them.  Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and set aside to let them cool.  Once cooled slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.

The meat sauce.
Step 3:
In a large skillet over medium heat cook the beef until is browned and no longer pink.  Then add the onions and cook until translucent.  Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Then add the wine to the pan and let reduce for 5 minutes.  Then add the cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, tomato puree and sugar.  Stir it together and then let simmer for 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4:
At this point the eggplants have been sitting for a while.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil.  Rinse the eggplant in water to remove the excess salt.  Then beat the egg white with a fork.  Pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl.  Dip the eggplant slices in the breadcrumbs and then in the egg white, and then back in the breadcrumbs.  Then place the breaded eggplant slices on the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes.  Then flip and bake for another 15 minutes.  Once the eggplant is cooked lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
The breaded eggplant slices.
Step 5:
Assemble the Moussaka.  Lightly grease a lasagna pan and then sprinkle with a light layer of breadcrumbs.  Then add the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the pan.  Put the breaded eggplant on top. Pour the meat sauce over the eggplant and then sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan on top.  Then add another layer of eggplant.  Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the top.

Step 6:
Make the bechamel sauce.  Heat the milk until warm.  In a large pot melt the butter over low heat.  Add the flour and whisk together.  Let the butter and flour mixture cook for 1 minute on low hear - do not brown it.  Then add the warmed milk and whisk together.  Simmer until the milk thickens and then remove from the heat.  Beat the egg yolks and temper them by adding 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture to the egg yolks while whisking continuously.  It is important to temper the eggs so you don't accidentally scramble the yolks when you add them to the hot milk.  Add 1 1/2 more cups of the warmed milk mix to the egg yolks 1/2 cup at the time while whisking.  Then add the egg yolks to the milk and stir together.  Then add the nutmeg.

Step 7:
Pour the bechamel sauce over the assembled moussaka.  And then top with the remaining Parmesan.  Bake for 45 minutes.
Finished Moussaka

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Taramosalata

The other day my husband, Charles, came home with two large bags of groceries.  Usually I do all of the grocery shopping and cooking so this was a surprise.  Charles and I had already discussed hosting an Olympic themed Sunday Night Dinner where all of our friends would bring food from different countries.  Charles said that he wanted to make Taramosalata and Tzatziki, which are both Greek dips.  He had purchased all of the ingredients to make these dishes twice, because he wanted to do a practice run before Sunday.

Charles doesn't have much experience in the kitchen, but he has lots of enthusiasm to make up for it.  So I gave Charles a cooking lesson.  He learned about the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, and in the end, the Taramosalata turned out great.  This is a pretty simple recipe that can be made in the blender.  We served it with Pita Bread that we brushed with Olive Oil, toasted in the oven, and cut into bit sized triangles.

You will need:
8 slices of day old bread
4 tablespoons Carp Roe Caviar
2 tablespoons White Onion
3/4 cup Olive Oil
5 tablespoons Lemon Juice

Step 1:
Cut the crusts off the bread.  Then soak it in water.  Squeeze out the bread and then let it sit in a colander while you prepare the other ingredients.

Step 2:
Add the caviar and 0nion to a food processor and blender.  Then slowly add the bread.

Step 3:
With the food processor or blender on a low setting, slowly add the 0live 0il.

Step 4:
Add the lemon juice and mix until combined, and the taramosalata is smooth and creamy.

Source: http://greekfood.about.com/od/dipsspreadspures1/r/taramosalata.htm

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wedding Advice

I am a newlywed, and I am relieved that the wedding planning is over and that I get to spend the rest of the summer relaxing with my new husband!  For anyone who is planning a wedding, here are some words of wisdom.

Everyone has an opinion, but you don't have to listen to anyone.  Lots of people told us not to go to Greece for our honeymoon because they thought it would be dangerous.  It was totally safe, and some things were less expensive because fewer people are traveling there.  We also felt like we got excellent service at every hotel and restaurant because Greek tourism as declined.

Having a photographer that you like as a person makes everything so much more fun!  Your wedding photographer will be by your side most of your wedding day, so make sure you like them!  I totally lucked out with the lovely Meredith Perdue!

Be smart about tanning leading up to your wedding.  You don't want tan lines!  I wore strapless dresses leading up to the wedding date to avoid any tan line issues.  Also, don't be that bride that gets a spray tan and is 10 shades darker than anyone else at the wedding.  A former co-worker of time got spray tanned before her September wedding in Chicago and it looked ridiculous since she was the only one with a tan.

Bring appropriate footwear on your honeymoon.  I brought heels but not sneakers.  The roads in Greece are not high heel friendly, and there were lots of hiking opportunities so I ended up buying sneakers in Greece.

Have a pair of flats at your wedding.  I was very glad that I did this!

If you are planning a summer wedding, or a wedding somewhere warm, consider a second dress for dancing.  What people do not realize is that there is a lot of fabric in a wedding dress and you get really hot wearing one!  I was so glad that I had a short dress to change into! 

Some people are difficult.  Before you bend over backwards to accommodate the most difficult guests - think twice.  In my case, my most difficult guests said they were coming - but were no shows.  Some people are just going to be difficult, my advice would be to stand your ground whatever their issue is, and don't waste your time trying to accommodate them, instead weed them out, if they are difficult from the get go - they will be difficult until the end.

If you aren't doing photos until after the ceremony, have a cocktail hour and a half instead of a cocktail hour.  Our photos took about 45 minutes or so.  When we got to the cocktail hour and a half we were able to say hi to almost every guest.  It was a huge relief to have 90% of the hellos out of the way before dinner.  After dinner we said hi to the few people we had missed and then we just got to have fun!

Have someone with experience help to bustle your dress.  Five of my girl friends were involved in trying to bustle my dress - I can't wait to see photos of this because I am sure they are hilarious.  My girl friends said that dress bustling should be a Girl Scout Badge - they are absolutely right.  Also - before you put your dress on, explain how your dress bustles to your bridesmaids.  It is easier to show them when you aren't wearing the dress.

Get a joint bank account before the wedding.  Cashing checks written to Mr. and Mrs. can be a huge hassle.  It is easier if you have a joint bank account because they aren't as strict about your last name on the check matching the last name on the account.  Changing your name takes a little while - and you are probably going to want to cash checks right away.  Fortunately my bank let me deposit the checks to Mr. and Mrs. - but it did require bringing my husband and our marriage certificate with me to the bank.  Note to wedding guests: always write the check to the groom - the couple will have no problems cashing the check if you do this!

Gather the documents you will need to change your name before the wedding.  Make sure you have your birth certificate, driver's license, passport, and social security card!

Make sure your birth certificate is accurate.  It sounds silly, but my mother's maiden name was spelled wrong.  Make sure your marriage license is correct as soon as you receive it, filling out the form correctly does not necessarily translate to a marriage license with accurate information.  They also spelled my mother's maiden name wrong.  It is super annoying requested corrected vital records, but probably best that we found the mistakes and can correct them before we file the immigration paperwork for my husband.

Some people have asked me if I would do anything differently.  The one thing I would do differently is that I would have given myself another hour to get ready.  By the time I was ready, it was time to walk out the door for the ceremony.  I wish I had a little more time to let everything sink in before I walked down the aisle.